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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for 'tone-deaf' virtual trip to Puerto Rico

Culture & Community By Travis M. Andrews568 views
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for 'tone-deaf' virtual trip to Puerto Rico

EXCERPT: Chicago Tribune

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized Tuesday after drawing criticism for live-streaming a video of him taking a virtual reality tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to promote a new Facebook feature.

The promotion showed 3-D cartoons of Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin, from Facebook's virtual reality team, discussing their "amazing" new app, while news footage of flooded Puerto Rico rolled in the background.

Zuckerberg stumbled over references to the storm and never identified the hurricane by name.

During the video, which is just over nine minutes, he also announced a Facebook initiative to team with the American Red Cross to build population maps of Puerto Rico to guide relief organizations to areas where help is most needed.

Facebook Spaces is an app that allows users to create an avatar, or cartoon image, of themselves and then explore the Earth and beyond through a virtual reality headset. It allows users to navigate through areas they likely couldn't otherwise, such as flooded Puerto Rico or the moon.

It's similar to an immersive version of the Google Maps Street View.

Technology critics derided the video as an insensitive marketing stunt, calling it "tone-deaf," "incredible and not in a good way," and "the height of tastelessness."

Vanity Fair's Maya Kosoff called the video a "completely avoidable public-relations disaster."

But many Facebook users who commented on Zuckerberg's video post thanked him for both the initiative and the ability to see the damage caused by the hurricane.

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